Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara Welcomes Karen Lee Stevens as Director of Wellness Programs

Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the well-being of individuals through animal-assisted therapy, is pleased to announce the appointment of Karen Lee Stevens as the Director of Wellness Programs.

Stevens is the Founder of Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara and has acted as its Executive Director since the organization’s inception in 1997. With an extensive background in nonprofit leadership, Mindfulness instruction, and humane education, Stevens will play a pivotal role in advancing the organization’s mission to empower individuals to live happier, more fulfilling lives.

“In recent years, I have witnessed children and youth struggling with stress, anxiety, and depression, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic,” says Stevens. “Our ‘Wag Well’ program aims to foster self-awareness and emotional regulation skills in children, enabling them to better understand and manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Combining Mindfulness and other wellness practices with the unconditional love of our therapy dogs is a unique and beautiful gift we can give our children to help them navigate the world with clarity, compassion and peace, and empower them to create a kinder and brighter future for all.”

Stevens will oversee the planning, implementation, and evaluation of Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara’s mental health and wellness initiatives. Her responsibilities include further developing programs for youth with the goal of promoting empathy, kindness, and positive relationships that ultimately create a supportive and inclusive environment that encourages social-emotional growth and healthy communication among children. She will also be actively involved in community engagement efforts, fostering partnerships with local schools, healthcare providers, and other organizations to expand the reach and impact of Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara’s mental health and wellness initiatives.

“Karen brings a wealth of experience and expertise to our organization and we are thrilled she will continue to be part of our team,” says Carey Bradshaw, Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara’s new Executive Director. “With her leadership, we are confident our Wag Well program will continue to grow and positively transform the lives of youth in our community. Her passion for improving mental health and her ability to connect with diverse populations will be invaluable as we strive to create a healthier and happier community.”

Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to empowering people to live more fulfilling lives through the human-animal bond. The organization’s certified therapy dog teams provide comfort, support, and unconditional love to individuals in schools, children’s organizations, nursing homes, and other care facilities. Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara believes in the transformative power of the human-animal bond and strives to make a positive difference in the lives of the young and young-at-heart in our community. For more information, visit www.therapydogssb.org.

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